Posts Tagged 'Adam Jones'

Buck Showalter & The Rejuvenated Orioles

The first four months of Orioles baseball in 2010 have been tough to bear witness to. Not to mention the twelve losing seasons that preceded them. But a different and exciting style of play has swept over the team since the debut of new manager Buck Showalter this past Tuesday.

Baltimore completed a three game sweep of the L.A. Angels last night, and they did so with an attitude of “This is how it should be.” It is hard to say how much a manager can really affect a ballclub. After all, skippers don’t hit, pitch, or field. But to anyone who saw the three victories the Orioles rattled off this week, the energy level was completely different, from the usual, as was the result on the scoreboard.

The games haven’t been perfect or pretty by any means. Take last night for example, when relief pitcher Jason Berken gave up a 3 run shot to Torii Hunter in the eighth to tie the game at 4. Showalter had the confidence to leave Berken in there, and he went on to retire four of the next five batters while recording the win.

The offense seems to have had a big spark as well. Adam Jones, Felix Pie, Luke Scott, Josh Bell, Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts, and Nick Markakis all swung the bat well and drove in runs in the three wins this week.

Buck summed it up pretty well in the post-game news conference last night: “Nothing’s as bad as it seems, and nothing’s as good as it seems. I tried to come into it with a real open mind. There’s enough track-record players here that you know they’re better than that, but things snowball. We all know that.”

The Birds finally have a guy who knows baseball, and knows baseball talent when he sees it. He is going to be evaluating the whole roster in these remaining two months to find out who are his guys are, who he can count on, who can handle adversity/injury, and who just doesn’t belong. I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of the club, it’s in the right hands. The foundation is set, and now the time has come for a winning team to emerge.

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O’s Finally End Streak, Dump Athletics 8-3

Ty Wigginton celebrates after hitting a two run home run in the ninth inning

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Ty Wigginton homered and drove in four runs, and the Baltimore Orioles snapped a nine-game skid by beating the Oakland Athletics 8-3 on Sunday and spoiling Brett Anderson’s first outing since receiving a hefty new contract.

The Orioles avoided their first four-game sweep in Oakland since Aug. 23-26, 2004, jumping on Anderson (1-1) two days after the A’s gave the pitcher a $12.5 million, four-year contract.

Brian Matusz (2-0), like Anderson a hard-throwing lefty, delivered a much-needed morale boost for the struggling Orioles in his first career outing against Oakland. He struck out eight, allowing three runs on eight hits and one walk in 6 1-3 innings.

Baltimore (2-11) had lost nine in a row since its lone previous victory at Tampa Bay on April 8, and is off to the franchise’s worst start since beginning 0-21 in 1988. The Orioles also ended a nine-game losing streak at the Coliseum dating to July 22, 2007.

It doesn’t get any easier as the Birds leave the Bay Area, either. The Orioles continue their 10-game trip with three games in Seattle followed by three at Fenway Park against Boston.

Anderson, an 11-game winner in his rookie campaign of 2009, needed only 25 pitches to get through the first two innings. He retired the first eight batters of the game before giving up consecutive two-out singles to Cesar Izturis and Adam Jones and then Wigginton’s two-run double.

Nick Markakis followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0, Lou Montanez singled in a run in the fourth and Nolan Reimold hit his two-run double in the fifth.

Wigginton hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth off Chad Gaudin.

And as Orioles radio play-by-play man Joe Angel would say…”You can put this one in the win column!!”

The nine game losing steak is over and I’d have to believe an immense feeling of relief has swept through the Orioles clubhouse.

The bats finally came alive on Sunday as Baltimore tallied 11 hits. The birds also went 5-11 with RISP and only stranded four. Since Wednesday Ty Wigginton has four home runs and 10 RBI’s.

Brian Matusz was solid once again. It is hard to believe that Sunday was only his tenth career start. He has struck out seven or more in each of his three starts and has yet to give up a home run.

And give credit to closer Jim Johnson. He went out there and redeemed himself today after Saturday’s abysmal performance. Two innings pitched, one base runner, and no runs. A strong effort and he was rewarded with his first save of the season.

The road trip continues tomorrow night in Seattle with Brad Bergesen taking the hill for the O’s. Doug Fister gets the start for the Mariners. First pitch is 10:10

Make It 7 In A Row, Athletics 6 – Orioles 2

Associated Press – Ben Sheets pounded the strike zone like his old aggressive self and finally commanded his fastball, winning for the first time since September 2008 in the Oakland Athletics’ 6-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.

Sheets (1-0), who missed all of 2009 recovering from elbow surgery, pitched six scoreless innings and made good for the first time on general manager Billy Beane’s bold offseason move of giving him $10 million to be the A’s new ace. Beane believed Sheets could return to the form that has made him a four-time All-Star.

The 31-year-old right-hander gave up five hits, struck out four and walked three to win for the first time since a five-hit shutout of San Diego on Sept. 6, 2008, while with Milwaukee.

Oakland gave Sheets a one-year contract in January, 11 months after his elbow surgery.

Ryan Sweeney had an RBI groundout and a fifth-inning double to give him a 10-game hitting streak to start the season and Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Chavez each hit sacrifice flies for the A’s, who got back on track offensively. Cliff Pennington drove in a pair of runs.

Another tough loss to swallow. Although the birds had eight hits, including four doubles, their scoring continued to be a major cause for concern. The team went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base. I’ll continue to post these numbers in my blogs because I feel that until Baltimore can improve them, they are going to continue to suffer defeats similar to Thursday night’s.

Of the eight hits, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones had half of them. The two were also responsible for driving in the only Oriole runs of the night.

There were two fielding errors, one by Jones and one by Ty Wigginton. Jones could have easily been charged with a second. In the bottom of the fifth Eric Chavez hit a line drive to shallow center and Jones caught it running at full speed. When he reached to take it out of his glove, the ball came out. The out was still recorded, but Oakland’s Ryan Sweeney was easily able to tag up and score the A’s fifth run.

At 24, David Hernandez is expected to go through some growing pains in 2010. Thursday’s outing was a prime example. He was able to strike out six batters in 5 innings pitched, but that was about all it did well. He gave up five runs on seven hits. Surely that was not the type of performance he would have liked, and this isn’t to make excuses for him, but it has got to be hard for him go out there and do well when in the back of his head he knows the offense isn’t going to give him run support.

The O’s will try to reverse their bad fortune tomorrow night two of this four game series against Oakland. Kevin Millwood takes the mound for Baltimore while Dallas Braden takes the hill for the A’s. First pitch is 10:05.

O’s give up 2 in 9th, fall to Rays 4-3

ST. PETERSBURG — Carl Crawford drove in two runs with a bases-loaded double in the ninth inning to give the Tampa Bay Rays a 4-3 season-opening victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

Adam Jones, Luke Scott and Matt Wieters homered for the Orioles, who were unable to put the game away because of a lack of timely hitting with runners in scoring position.

Evan Longoria homered in the sixth for the Rays, who loaded the bases in the ninth against Baltimore’s new closer, Michael Gonzalez, with a single, double and an intentional walk. Crawford lined a 1-0 pitch into right field, driving in the winning runs before a sellout crowd of 36,973 at Tropicana Field.

That was a tough loss to take. I was very pleased with how Jones (a triple shy of a cycle) and Wieters (2-4 w/ a HR) performed. However, the whole lineup going 1-12 with runners in scoring position kept Tampa Bay in the ballgame and gave them the opportunity to come away victorious. And that 1 hit out of twelve didn’t even drive in a run.

Starting pitcher Kevin Millwood gave up nine hits and allowed two runs over 5 innings pitched. I really liked the way he commanded the location of his pitches and how he got out of a few jams in the third and fifth innings. He escaped the third inning unblemished thanks to Nick Markakis gunning down Dioner Navarro at the plate after Ben Zobrist’s single to right. He struck out five and only gave up one walk. He did struggle in the top of the sixth, failing to record an out while giving up the Longoria homer and then two straight base hits.

But the middle relief was a huge bright spot. Compared to 2009, when Oriole relievers gave up an A.L. worst 314 total runs, things looked much better last night. Matt Albers entered the game for Millwood with runners on first and second and got Pat Burrell to ground into a timely double play. He then proceeded strike out Sean Rodriguez to end the inning.

Relievers Will Ohman and Jim Johnson were rock solid in the seventh and eighth, retiring all five batters they faced on a combined 22 pitches.

Gonzalez came in to try to preserve the one run lead and struck out the first batter he faced. However he then gave up a single and two straight doubles, the second of which drove in the tying and game-winning runs for Tampa Bay.

It was frustrating to have the middle guys do so well in relief only to have Gonzalez blow it like that. It’s still early though, no need to press the panic button. He is a very good pitcher who will save this squad plenty of games in 2010.

Game 2 of the 3 game series is tonight at 7:10 on MASN2

Orioles 2010 Preview: Hope Springs Eternal

(Image Courtesy of Orioles.com)

Tonight symbolizes a fresh start for the Baltimore Orioles. All the opening days of the past 12 years have been fresh starts in a sense. But they way those last 12 seasons have ended up…yikes!

My favorite team has been hard to watch for the past decade. It has been frustrating, embarrassing, and sad to see sub par baseball year in and year out.

But there is plenty of optimism this year amongst players and fans alike. When I look at the 2010 Orioles I see serious potential for growth. That growth is what will hopefully translate into contention with the big boys in the A.L. East in the years to come

So here is my brief outlook of this year’s team:

The starting pitching staff is young (Brian Matusz, David Hernandez, and Brad Bergesen are 23, 24, and 24 respectively) but the they are anchored by veterans Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie. One would hope there is some improvement from 2009 in which Baltimore’s starters tied for the worst ERA in baseball at 5.37

Brian Roberts once again will lead things off and play second base. He was limited to 19 at-bats during spring training due to a herniated disk in his back. Despite this he is set to go and will play in tonight’s game.  batting second is Center fielder Adam Jones. Jones was named an All Star and won his first career Gold Glove award in 2009. He has improved vastly since joining the team 2 seasons ago. He has tremendous range in the outfield and has become more patient as a hitter. I still feel he has another season or two before he really blossoms at the plate. Right fielder Nick Markakis’ stats dipped a bit in ’09. He is entering his fifth full season as a pro and I’m looking for him to be firing on all cylinders this year. An average of over .300, 25+ home runs, and 100+ RBI’s are very realistic numbers for him.

A familiar face in Miguel Tejada is back on the squad. He will play third and bat cleanup this year. DH Luke Scott and catcher Matt Wieters fill the 5 and 6 spots respectively. This will be Wieters’ first full season in the major leagues and he’d like to pick up where he left off at the end of his rookie campaign. He had a very solid September last year, finishing the month hitting .362, knocking in 14 runs, and having an on base percentage of .425.

Also entering his first full season is Nolan Reimold. He will bat seventh and occupy left field. But he will miss tonight’s opener with a sore Achilles tendon. Felix Pie will fill in. Garrett Atkins joins the O’s after seven seasons with the Rockies. He will play first and bat eighth. He is a career .290 hitter who like Markakis, is capable hitting 25+ HR’s driving in 100+ RBI’s in a good year. His numbers dropped off considerably in 2009, it will be interesting to see if he can rebound in 2010. And batting ninth is shortstop Cesar Izturis. Last year the Orioles needed major help defensively at short and they got it in Izturis. In 2009 he had a .984 fielding percentage and committed only eight errors.

There you have it. I assume it would be appropriate to make a prediction here. I’m going to say the O’s finish 4th in the American League East and just barely miss reaching the .500 mark with a record of 80-82. Just some perspective: the birds have not had more than 79 wins since 1997, when they won the division with 98! I’ll refer back to this post in October when all the dust has settled. Hopefully I’m not too off. Enjoy the season!!!

Loving The New “Birdland” TV Spots

Alright so last week I caught a glimpse of the TV and there was commercial on featuring my favorite Oriole: center fielder Adam Jones. But this Oriole ad was different. You see, when it ended, I was pumped, excited, and ready to buy season tickets!! 

Ok maybe I got a little carried away. But let me walk you through the ad in case you haven’t seen it. 

It has Jones in the weight room doing squats, curls, and agility drills. He’s sweating like crazy and looks pissed off. While all of this is being shown you hear him saying: 

Last season, I earned the title: All Star.
So what??
I’m not working to be called Gold Glove winner or All Star.

I’m working for the title: World Champion. 

And when I earn that, I’ll rest 
…Well, probably not. 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Yes! This is a commercial I can be proud of! Who wouldn’t want to support the team after seeing this? 

There are two more spots that are currently airing that are very similar to this. One is with catcher Matt Wieters and shows him swinging away in the batting cage talking about how games are won and lost in the offseason. The other is with pitcher Brad Bergesen throwing some heat and claiming he can’t wait to attack 2010. 

Once again, I’m probably getting a little carried away here. These are only commercials. But when you contrast these to some of the commercials of last year…what a difference. 

Here are just two of the 7 or so ads that were running last year: 

 

First we have two young ladies at the game. The one on the left mentions how every game they attend, the one on the right just stares at “him”. She asks if she will ever say anything to “him”. We then see the Oriole Bird dancing on the dugout and find out who “he” is. Finally they get his attention and the one on the right blushes. “THIS IS TRUE LOVE” pops up on the screen. 

It’s cute, and I get it. But come on!! Clearly they are marketing the fun part of the game, and there is nothing wrong with that. But when it airs half a dozen times per telecast, it gets to be a little too silly for me. 

Continue reading ‘Loving The New “Birdland” TV Spots’


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